Avocados play the leading role in guacamole [gwah-kah-MOH-lee], a popular Mexican recipe that you can serve as a dip, side dish, topping, or sauce. In its simplest form, guacamole is mashed avocado seasoned with lime juice, onion, and salt, but there are various ways to make it. Here we show you how to make basic guacamole, starting with pitting an avocado, as well as tasty ways to spice it up.
A ripe avocado has a buttery texture inside and a faintly nutty flavor. When shopping for an avocado, look for one that:
- Yields to gentle palm pressure but isn't too mushy. (If your market only has firm avocados, ripen a few at home.)
- Has no blemishes.
- Feels heavy for its size.
Tip: Ripen firm avocados in a paper bag for 2 to 4 days. Once ripe, whole avocados can be refrigerated for up to 5 days until needed.
- With a large, sharp knife, cut an avocado in half lengthwise. Twist the two halves in opposite directions to separate.
- Remove the pit by placing the avocado half with the pit on a cutting board. Firmly tap the pit with the knife so the knife is wedged into the pit; turn the knife like a key to remove the pit. Or use a spoon to pry out the pit.
If mashing the avocado, scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
If dicing the avocado, use a small knife to make parallel cuts in one direction just through the flesh. Rotate and repeat the cuts to create a diamond pattern. Scoop out the pieces of avocado with a spoon.
Once you mash or cut up the avocado and prepare the other ingredients, guacamole is quick to make. For chunky guacamole stir the ingredients together, gently stirring in the mashed or diced avocado at the end. For a smoother-textured guacamole, use a blender or food processor.
For variety, stir any of the following ingredients into a basic guacamole recipe or purchased guacamole:
- 1 seeded, finely chopped jalapeno chile pepper
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup chopped mango or papaya
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet pepper or peeled jicama
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin and/or cayenne pepper
Tip: To make guacamole ahead, cover the surface tightly with plastic wrap and/or set the avocado pit in it and chill for 1 to 24 hours, depending on the recipe. Avocados discolor easily when exposed to air. If the surface of the guacamole stars to discolor, simply scrape off the discolored portion. The guacamole is still OK to eat.
Place all of the ingredients into a resealable plastic bag.
Seal the bag, then squeeze and knead it to mash the ingredients into an almost-smooth consistency. Serve immediately or chill for up to 8 hours (after 8 hours it can water out and start to turn discolor, making it less appetizing).
When you're ready to serve the guacamole, cut off a corner of the bag with scissors and squeeze the guacamole into a serving bowl.